The Best Superman In History Is Getting An Incredible Restoration

The Max Fleischer Superman cartoons will soon be available in Blu-ray and digital purchase for the first time in restored 4K HD.

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

Max Flesicher’s Superman

The first Superman to appear in movies was the animated Max Fleischer cartoons, first released in 1941. 17 short cartoons were made over two years, and in the process gave the superhero his greatest power, flight, and established the classic look that influenced Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series. Later this year, all 17 cartoons will be available on Blu-ray and Digital in gloriously restored 4K HD for the first time.

Considered to be the most influential version of Superman in media, the Max Fleischer cartoons cemented his iconic look in popular culture. In 1941, the comics were still new, and his powerset consisted of “leaping over a tall building in a single bound,” it wasn’t until the animators realized how hard it was to make loog good in motion that he was granted the power of flight. Christopher Reeve‘s classic film was marketed based on a power that the character never had until Fleischer and his team made it happen to solve a technical limitation.

Superman, the first cartoon produced by the legendary studio, was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Short Subject, losing out to Walt Disney‘s Lend a Paw, featuring Pluto. Though they lost the award, Fleischer’s studio won the battle as their cartoons were the most expensive ever produced at that time, with the first episode costing Paramount $50,000 to make. Subsequent episodes had a price tag of $30,000 for each 6 to 9-minute short film.

In today’s terms, that would be $635,032 and $381,000 if made in 2021, exceeding the budget for most feature films made in 1941. The money was well spent, as the cartoons were a massive success, running in theaters weekly for two years before being pulled. That wasn’t the end of Superman, though, as the voices of Clark Kent and Lois Lane were also starring in weekly radio drama simultaneously.

Max Fleischer’s Superman

Bud Collyer, later famous for hosting game shows such as To Tell The Truth, was the first voice of Superman on the radio and in cartoons, beating George Reeves‘ first live-action portrayal by over a decade. Joan Alexander provided the voice for Lois Lane alongside Collyer, the first actress to bring the famous journalist to life. Each of their performances has been remastered alongside the technicolor visuals, making the upcoming collection an ultimate version of the most iconic superhero in history.

For decades, after the cartoons fell into the public domain, the Max Fleischer cartoons were widely available on cheap VHS and DVDs. Warner Bros. Discovery re-acquired the rights to the original prints through a series of acquisitions and mergers with various right holders, which now makes them the sole owner of the source material. Utilizing the original prints and going frame by frame with digital restoration tools allowed the skilled team at modern-day DC Comics to bring Superman to life as never before.

The fully remastered Max Fleischer Superman collection will be available May 16th on Blu-ray and digitally through Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV, Google Play, and Vudu.